Twelfth Night

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Twelfth Night and Other Shakespearean Comedies?

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is a beloved comedy that stands out for its wit, mistaken identities, and romantic entanglements. While it shares many similarities with other Shakespearean comedies, it also possesses unique elements that set it apart. This article delves into the similarities and differences between Twelfth Night and other Shakespearean comedies, exploring how these factors contribute to the play's overall appeal and significance.

What Are The Similarities And Differences Between Twelfth Night And Other Shakespearean Comedies?

Similarities Between Twelfth Night And Other Shakespearean Comedies

Use Of Mistaken Identity:

  • Mistaken identity is a common plot device in Shakespearean comedies, creating humor and driving the plot forward.
  • In Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario, leading to a series of mistaken identities and humorous situations.
  • Other comedies like A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Comedy of Errors also employ mistaken identity for comedic effect.

Romantic Entanglements:

  • Shakespearean comedies often involve complex romantic relationships, adding humor and suspense to the plays.
  • In Twelfth Night, Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Countess Olivia, who in turn falls for Viola disguised as Cesario.
  • Similar romantic entanglements can be found in comedies like Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It.

Use Of Disguise:

  • Disguise is a common element in Shakespearean comedies, allowing characters to explore different aspects of their personalities.
  • In Twelfth Night, Viola disguises herself as Cesario to serve Duke Orsino, while Malvolio disguises himself as a fool to win Olivia's favor.
  • Other comedies like The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew also feature characters using disguise for various reasons.

Differences Between Twelfth Night And Other Shakespearean Comedies


  • Twelfth Night is set in the fictional land of Illyria, while many other Shakespearean comedies are set in real-world locations.
  • This difference in setting affects the play's tone and atmosphere, creating a sense of magic and enchantment.
  • Comedies like A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest also feature fantastical settings that contribute to their unique atmospheres.


  • Twelfth Night has a more lighthearted and festive tone compared to some other Shakespearean comedies.
  • The play is filled with music, dancing, and witty banter, creating an upbeat and celebratory atmosphere.
  • Comedies like The Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor have a more satirical and farcical tone, focusing on social issues and human folly.


  • Twelfth Night explores themes of love, identity, and self-discovery in a unique way.
  • The play delves into the complexities of love and the fluidity of identity, as characters navigate mistaken identities and shifting relationships.
  • Other comedies like Twelfth Night may explore similar themes, but Twelfth Night's treatment of these themes sets it apart.

Twelfth Night stands as a testament to Shakespeare's comedic genius, combining familiar elements of mistaken identity, romantic entanglements, and disguise with unique features such as its fantastical setting, lighthearted tone, and exploration of love and identity. While it shares similarities with other Shakespearean comedies, these differences contribute to its distinct charm and enduring appeal. Twelfth Night remains a beloved classic that continues to entertain and captivate audiences to this day.

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